Document Type


Date of Award



College of Liberal Arts and Behavioral Sciences (COLABS)

Degree Name

MA in English

First Advisor

Professor Patricia R. Williams


The challenge that present scholars have to face is constructing a literary history that includes the aesthetics of Dunbar, which is traceable to and predetermined by the experimental, Romantic tendencies of Longinus, Wordsworth and Coleridge. Therefore, application of the literary trends and techniques of the Romantic era, which emphasizes the Expressive theory, lends itself to the hypothesis of this study: Dunbar's nature lyrics, like those of the British Romantics, reflect experiments with language, tone and subject matter as prefigured by Longinus, Wordsworth and Coleridge. The purpose of this investigation is to examine the literary English works of Paul Laurence Dunbar to determine their characteristic trends and techniques. First, this study establishes the aesthetic quality of the poetry of Dunbar. Secondly, it exposes the stylistic pertinence of the poetry of Dunbar. Thirdly, it validates the claim that the literary English poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar adheres to the Romantic temper. Finally, this research reveals the critical reception of the Romantic poetry of Dunbar. VI. The research methodology that shapes this study is a literary history, with a focus on theoretical analyses. A literary history is a method of inquiry which establishes the genesis and subsequent maturation of a movement of literature, in this case the Romantic movement. Further, the theoretical perspectives of the movement are chronicled and used as a foundation for a study. Thus, in this study, the theoretical perspectives began with Longinus and matured with the perspectives and practices of Words worth, Coleridge, and concluded with Dunbar. The findings of this study disclose a significant aesthetic premise about Dunbar's nature lyrics. This factor is that the language, tone and subject matter of Dunbar's verse undoubtedly ascribe to the theoretical Romantic principles of Longinus, Wordsworth and Coleridge. Thus, in the Romantic tendencies in Dunbar's nature lyrics is a natural, normal, accurate representation. Language reveals tone, and tone is contingent upon subject matter in Dunbar's verse, as is the occurrence in typical Romantic poetry. As a result, the multiple tendencies of each of these aspects inform Dunbar's versification and establish a dialectic worthy of analyzing his poetry, the purpose to which this study has been devoted.